BLOGPOST: A Season of Hope: Lighting a Candle in the Darkness

“There is something deep inside of the human psyche that needs a celebration where we celebrate light that overcomes darkness, where we put aside differences and try very hard to ignore the darker side of human nature — the baser side of who we are — and do good, love one another and be kind to one another.” Rev. Wayne Alloway
Christmas comes earlier every year.  The carols play sooner; the lights go up in November. Of course, there is the shopping.
And every year, there is a news story–or a few–about people trampling each other to get a good deal. Those stories distort the true spirit of Christmas.
For Christians inhabiting a dark world, putting on the music of Christmas, putting up the lights, and searching for gifts to bestow on others illuminate the hope the season offers.
So maybe Christmas coming earlier every year isn’t just the retailers trying to keep red ink out of their books. Maybe  it comes sooner because we keep seeking the light it brings. To move beyond the noise, crowds, and busyness of Christmas, to move beyond our own darkness is to grasp stillness, peace, and joy. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: A Season of Hope: Lighting a Candle in the Darkness”

Reasonable and Reasoned Faith

“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” (Chesterton, Orthodoxy 34)

In the effort to end the slave trade in Great Britain, William Wilberforce and his allies “looked to the heavens” for help because in the late 1700s and early 1800s, “science was not as advanced as it is today.” That’s what I read in a student paper last week.
This student obviously sees faith in God as outdated. He solidly resides within the realm of reason and excludes the possibility of a non-material world, and finding faith in the “heavens” unreasonable.
What he misses is how Wilberforce, outside the context of his Christian faith, could have come up with the idea that slavery and many other ills of his time were evil.  Continue reading “Reasonable and Reasoned Faith”

BLOGPOST: A Paradox of Radical Seeking

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Revelation 3: 2 (NASB).

Brother Andrew has been smuggling Bibles into hostile countries since before I was born, which if you ask my grown children, is a very long time. Also known as God’s Smuggler, Andrew sneaked God’s Word into Soviet Bloc nations and is still carrying it into communist China and scores of other countries.
For Brother Andrew, the Iron Curtain proved to be pliable fabric. The curtain would fall in 1989, but in the 1970s, Andrew sensed a shifting of the evil in the world. He could see that communism was waning and a new threat was emerging.
“The only power that can overcome a bad power is a worse power and I saw that already then as the Islam,” he said (CBN). Continue reading “BLOGPOST: A Paradox of Radical Seeking”

We'll Always Have Paris–Or Will We?

“You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.” from Casablanca.
In 1942, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Heinreid starred in Casablanca, the classic film about a love triangle. Ilsa, played by Bergman, is married to Victor Laszlo (Heinreid), but she thinks he’s dead. Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa fall in love, but then Ilsa finds out Victor isn’t dead after all.
By chance, they all meet in Nazi occupied Casablanca where Rick owns a bar. Laszlo is a highly sought after fugitive. The Nazis hope to capture him to squelch his effectiveness as a resister.
At the end (spoiler alert!), Rick decides to engage in resistance on his own and convinces Ilsa to escape with Victor while they can.
“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.” Continue reading “We'll Always Have Paris–Or Will We?”

Sheepdogs and Guardians: Carrying Veterans' Day Beyond November 11

When my first son was born, I was worried that there would be a war when he grew up and he would have to fight in it. He was sandwiched between two sisters; two more brothers followed them. When the youngest boys were born, thoughts of war were far from my mind.
Of my five children, it was those youngest two sons who became soldiers.
I can’t do most war movies anymore. Oh, there are the ones I remember from my childhood and from my children’s childhoods–The Great Escape, Patton, Glory, and Gettysburg. Classics of great heroism that tell stories that meant so much to my father–a World War II navy veteran and history buff. Those movies were all made before my sons became soldiers. Continue reading “Sheepdogs and Guardians: Carrying Veterans' Day Beyond November 11”

BLOGPOST: Patchwork Church: A Gift to the World

Several years ago, my daughter asked me to restore a quilt that her husband’s grandmother had crafted decades earlier. She wanted her daughter to have a quilt that her great-grandmother made and her grandmother restored. Since I have two granddaughters, I searched my favorite antique store and found another quilt in good shape and set to work on both of them.
I hope to present both girls with their quilts this Christmas. The most fun part of this project was collecting fabric scraps that represent our family. There are pieces from my wedding dress, pieces from army uniforms their uncles wore when they deployed to the Middle East, pieces from dresses I made for the girls, including fabric I bought during a mission trip to Asia. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: Patchwork Church: A Gift to the World”

A Letter from Licentia

My name is Licentia. It means free love, but I am anything but free. I was an embryo of an idea in Eden and have been born and reborn many times throughout history. My most recent manifestation began in the Western Civilization of the 1960s. That’s when it actually became easy to ward off the consequences of my embrace–or so the people of the day took as gospel–and still do.
“I am harmless,” I preach. “I bring you only pleasure and never pain.” Because of their innate innocence and trust, and because of their desire, they believe me. Continue reading “A Letter from Licentia”

Heaven on Earth, But Not in Heaven Yet

Last evening, my family gathered to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Saturday afternoon, I pulled out the little cookbook, the one nearly as old as she is with that pumpkin cupcake recipe that has come to mark her special day. The book fell open to that page. Stains from other years mark decades of use.
I thought of times I had made these cupcakes for school parties, church events, and these family gatherings. It’s a recipe with chocolate chips mixed in. When they’re done, I coat them in store-bought icing with added red and yellow food coloring to make orange. When they were small, the children were convinced that the color somehow added flavor. Perhaps it is the savor of tradition and memory. Continue reading “Heaven on Earth, But Not in Heaven Yet”